Local politicians shocked, embarrassed by Washington riots

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Hopkinton politicians were quick to condemn Wednesday’s actions in Washington, where a mob of Donald Trump loyalists stormed the U.S. Capitol while the House and Senate were preparing to confirm Joe Biden’s election as president.

Select Board member Amy Ritterbusch, a Democrat, said she had the news on in the background while she was working from home. She finished a Zoom meeting and was surprised to learn what had happened in the meantime, as protesters marched into and through the Capitol.

During the riots, a woman was shot and killed, and three others died of what police said were medical emergencies.

“I was shocked to see that the U.S. Capitol had been breached and see the photos of the doors of the House chamber barricaded and police with guns drawn to protect our members of congress and their staff,” Ritterbusch emailed. “I felt shaken to the core watching these events transpire on TV [yesterday]. I fully support the right to peaceful protest, as well as the right for candidates to request recounts and file appeals as allowed by law, but the violent acts today were counter to our democratic ideals. The peaceful transfer of power is a critical tenet of our system of government.

“I am thankful as always for our free press who can share the images and videos with us in real time so we can all see what happened with our own eyes. I hope that peace returns to D.C. soon and that there is no further loss of life.”

Select Board chair Brendan Tedstone, an independent who is a strong defender of law enforcement, said Wednesday’s conflict was the culmination of a years-long buildup.

“[Yesterday’s] actions in Washington, D.C., are a sickening, embarrassing reflection of where our society has gone in the last few years,” he texted. “These actions [Wednesday] are no different than the actions of antifa and the other militant, cowardly groups over the last few years. People need to find a better way to get their point across than ganging up and using force. The police today are scrutinized so heavily that they must be petrified to act, as they’re trained to be in fear of social media ramifications that could not only cost them their job but potentially their lives.”

Select Board member Brian Herr, a former Republican turned independent, said the blame lies squarely with the president.

“The events that unfolded in Washington [yesterday] are deeply disturbing on so many levels,” he emailed. “The sad thing about it … they have been in the works since the day Trump was sworn in. His relentless denial of the truth and the abuse of the American people through his lies and routine false hope led directly to the insurrection. Moreover, the cowardly Republicans in power in the United States Senate that have enabled him for years only found courage [Wednesday] evening after their own safety was put in jeopardy. If we can’t learn from this day, we will never learn from any other.”

Hopkinton Public Schools superintendent Carol Cavanaugh emailed the schools community Thursday afternoon to express concern about how students might react to Wednesday’s events.

“As superintendent, I worry about the violation and upset our children may feel as they grapple with the images and tweets and other media messages broadcast throughout the afternoon and evening,” she wrote. “Certainly these protests were not unexpected. However, in a situation where lawful protests turned into unlawful and violent behaviors, our children again may need adult guidance in making sense of how these events unfolded.
I hope families will help frame yesterday’s events for children in keeping with the child’s developmental and readiness levels as well as with your families’ values. In school, we will stress the values of democracy, civil discourse, healing dialogue, and the importance of government that values our country, its residents, and its citizenry.”

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